Network: Web sites
Tuesday 26 August 1997
There are plenty of online galleries out there, but art actually created for the Web is much more elusive: as hard to define as it often is to download. calls itself a "national Internet arts agency" and supplies a valuable page of links to UK artists, as well as initiating projects of its own. The latest of these seeks submissions on the "digital city", eventually to be presented in the form of an integrated map. Already viewable are Heath Bunting's satire on video surveillance, linking webcams from round the world and asking viewers to keep an eye open for street crime (local police fax numbers supplied); and Rory Hamilton's "Airports", which mixes images from air and computer terminals while finding time for a few silly jokes: "Laptops should not be operated during takeoff, since flying a plane and typing is very dangerous."
On 14 September 1939, the German submarine U39, manufactured by AG Weser of Bremen and commanded by Kptlt Gerhard Glattes, was sunk on its first patrol by depth charges from the destroyers HMS Faulknor, Foxhound and Firedrake, at map reference 58.32N,11.49W. You can trace the destinies of a further 1,167 U-boats through the 1,600 pages of records, maps, images and bibliographies in this Leviathan of a site. The Icelandic creator of this award-winning historical resource, Gudmundur Helgason, claims naval experience of his own in a "semi-official cod war with Norway". He warns his fellow-obsessives worldwide not to phone Iceland at 4am to ask him about midget submarines.
Coca Cola Japan
The title page is a big red dispenser from which a can of Coke - or sometimes Fanta - comes thudding out, followed by a frenzy of games, images, and Shockwave-showcasing. The Japanese Coke jingle can be experienced in Techno, Jungle and something called Love Circus mixes, along with children's games and some rather reluctant movie clips. Though the full text is only legible with a Japanese browser, the site is also extensively bilingual and seems, like its subject, to be designed for global consumption.
The Worsley Institute of Blu-Tack Art
A humble poster-putty finally comes into its own as an artistic medium. Or rather, a couple of very bored inmates of Bristol University's Chemical Library concoct a sendup of modern art criticism to explain their (rather cute) little sculptures of bunnies, cats and dinosaurs. The result won't quite earn them an Arts Council grant, though the team are coming on nicely as theoreticians, as with an unauthorised version of Gromit (no Wallace as yet): "by the simple expedient of changing the medium from plasticine to blu-tack, the artist has challenged our most fundamental (mis)conceptions of art, media and contemporary "culture", summarised in the following formula: blu-tack + transposition = TRANSMOGRIFICATION." You've still got to be careful peeling it off wallpaper, though.
The Miserable Old Git
Real-life Victor Meldrews would enjoy this anthology of online curmudgeonliness, if only they'd let themselves, which of course they won't. "Wear your scowl with pride" is the motto here. A Hall of Fame section includes Scrooge, Jean-Paul Sartre and Alf Garnett as miserabilists-through-the-ages, and there are banner ads for bankrupt mobile phone companies and a "totally dumb" search engine which supplies 200,000 unrelated sites for each query. It doesn't work, of course.
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